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Newspaper coverage of psychiatry and general medicine: comparing tabloids with broadsheets

  • Guido Pieters (a1), Véronique De Gucht (a2) and Hendrik Kajosch (a3)
Abstract
Aims and Method

To study whether psychiatry received differing treatment in newspapers than the other medical specialities, and whether tabloids were more negative in their coverage of general medicine and psychiatry than broadsheets. We conducted a survey of all headlines in all daily newspapers in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium over a one-month period and judged whether the content was essentially positive, neutral or negative.

Results

There was no significant difference between articles on general medicine and psychiatry with respect to the tone of the article. Whereas negative articles about medicine focused on both doctor and patient to the same extent, negative articles on psychiatry tended more often to describe the patient. Broadsheets published more negative than positive articles, while tabloids published an equal proportion of negative and positive articles.

Clinical Implications

There appears to be no difference in tone with respect to articles on general medicine and psychiatry, respectively. Nevertheless, the fact that negative articles on psychiatry tend to focus more exclusively on the patient points towards continuing stigmatisation of the psychiatric patient. Finally, broadsheets tend to be more negative in covering both general medicine and psychiatry, which contrasts with earlier findings.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Ali, N.Y., Lo, T.Y. S., Auvache, V., et al (2001) Bad press for doctors: a 21 year survey of three national newspapers. BMJ, 323, 782783.
Bartlett, J., Sterne, J. & Egger, M. (2002) What is newsworthy? Longitudinal study of the reporting of medical research in two British newspapers. BMJ, 325, 8184.
Day, D. M. & Page, S. (1986) Portrayal of mental illness in Canadian newspapers. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 31, 813817.
Lawrie, S. M. (2000) Newspaper coverage of psychiatric and physical illness. Psychiatric Bulletin, 24, 104106.
O'Connor, A. & Casey, P. (2001) What it says in the papers: an audit. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 18, 6871.
Peters, C. (2002) Doctors' bad press depends on type of newspaper. BMJ, 324, 241 (Letter).
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Newspaper coverage of psychiatry and general medicine: comparing tabloids with broadsheets

  • Guido Pieters (a1), Véronique De Gucht (a2) and Hendrik Kajosch (a3)
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